KATHMANDU - He heard the crack. In the thin air around Camp 1, on the way to Everest's summit, sounds like that can seem more menacing than they are. But this time, Pemba Tshering Sherpa-who was lugging up a tent along with supplies to be used by his clients in a few weeks-felt that there really was something ominous about the sound.
He glanced westwards and up, and before he could gather himself, he was flung by the high-pressure front generated by the now-infamous avalanche on Mt Everest, on April 18. He was lucky to have been so displaced, for he landed in a spot some distance away from the path of the trundling mass of snow, which blanketed everything in its path.
On the little outcrop where he'd landed, Pemba crouched low to the ground, waiting for everything to subside. When the force of the avalanche had been spent, he looked around for his fellow guides.
As he scanned the area, he saw bodies strewn all around, some half buried, some with arms and legs sticking out from under the snow, and some whose bodies made outlines in relief on the snow. Even from a distance, he knew that most were unconscious and that many were probably dead.
As he made his way towards his colleagues, it occurred to him that although he had seen avalanches before and the death that they wrought, he had never seen one on this scale. As he reached the avalanche's area, some of the guides who had climbed further up, before the avalanche hit, descended too, and together, they set out trying to rescue as many fellow workers as possible.
They used whatever they had at their disposal-to dig as fast as they could: shovels, the crampons under their boots, even their fingernails. He doesn't know how many fellow climbers he was able to rescue and by the time the rescue team from the Base Camp arrived, he had collapsed. Along with all the others-the 14 dead and nine injured-he was airlifted to Kathmandu. Pemba was then taken to Medicare hospital, Chahabil.